Main content

Hawks stars enjoy the four-flag selfie

Highlights: 2015 AFL Grand Final The Hawks and Eagles clash in Saturday's decider

• Ten things we learned from the Grand Final
• Norm Smith Medal: Rioli inspires Hawks to new heights
• Analysis: How the Hawks unravelled the Eagles' web

AMID the pandemonium of the victorious Hawthorn changerooms, six exhausted but buoyant Hawks quietly slip away to pose for a photo, grinning from ear to ear. 

Seven pieces of silverware hang over the necks of the six men. Six premiership medallions, and a Norm Smith. 

Cyril Rioli, Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis, Sam Mitchell, Grant Birchall and Jarryd Roughead have snuck off for a moment of quiet away from their celebrating teammates and coaches. 

On a special day full of special moments for Hawthorn, they are an extra special group. 

Alongside Shaun Burgoyne – who also notched his fourth premiership, having won his first for Port Adelaide in 2004 – they had again shone on the white-hot Grand Final stage. 

Six men, four brown and gold premierships each, in a moment of intimate reflection after they had sizzled on a sweltering MCG.

It was no surprise that each member of this group-within-a-group had played a pivotal role as the Hawks steamrolled an outclassed and perhaps overawed West Coast side at the home of football. 

And for those who understood the significance of the victory, it also was no surprise that these six Hawks sought each other out quickly after leaving the playing arena post-game. 

It was the four-flag selfie. 

 

Lewis, who was his usual hard, industrious self against the Eagles with 26 touches, nine marks and five tackles, said the tightknit teammates were replicating a similar photo taken after last year's Grand Final shellacking of the Sydney Swans. 

"We took a photo last year [of the six of us] and that was special, so we thought we'd do it again this year," he said. 

"We're very thankful we're in this position. 

"Any guy you play in a premiership with, you're drawn back to because of a certain bond." 

Alongside him was Mitchell, whose influence on the contest was profound.

The visionary midfielder – how is he getting better, as most veterans regress? – stamped his authority on the match from the outset, winning the ball 34 times and setting up countless opportunities for his side.

He could easily have been the one with a second medal around his neck. 

Mitchell was cherishing the moment with his five weary but extremely proud mates. 

"We took a photo last year and it's my favourite photo of my career, family excluded, with the six guys who have played in them all and have been through the whole journey," he said. 

"Now it is four (flags), so it's pretty special to have been through such a long journey." 

Cyril Rioli with his boots and his booty from the Grand Final. Picture: AFL Media

The group's premier performer on Saturday, Rioli, had the biggest reason to smile. 

Every time Rioli touched – or even went near the Sherrin – on Saturday it seemed to result in a Hawthorn score, while the pressure he put on his opponents had many Eagles jumping at shadows. 

After collecting 18 silky touches, kicking two goals and setting up a handful of others, Rioli joined his uncles Maurice Rioli and Michael Long as a Norm Smith medallist.  

He and his long-time forward line partner Roughead were torn as to whether Saturday's triumph was any more or less special than the three previous. 

"I said to 'Rough', it was an unbelievable feeling out on the ground. I think as the Grand Finals go on, they get a lot better," Rioli said.  

"The losing one (2012) definitely plays on your mind a little bit.  

"I think that’s been the driving force for the last three years." 

Roughead, who had to defy a cancer scare mid-year, said each of his four flags were equal but the fact the Hawks had to endure a difficult finals series – twice travelling to Perth, and missing out on a week off – made this year's achievement even more remarkable. 

"(It is) no different, they're all pretty special," he said. 

"(But) we had to go the long way around this year in terms of playing all four finals but I think we've lost one final in three years and two in four, so it's been pretty good." 

Pretty good? 

Thousands of AFL footballers have dreamt of enjoying that 'pretty good' moment once. Let alone four of them.